Cancer is very complex in that one treatment may work for one person's cancer but that same treatment might not work for another person's cancer. Doctors are now testing many different types of medicines on specially created animals that were given the extra replica of a certain person's cancer (cancer avatars).
One approach was used on a man with terminal colon cancer. Scientists generated Drosophila fruit flies to have the same genetic mutations as the man with colon cancer. Before the experiment, the man's colon cancer had spread throughout his body and his tumor had at least nine cancerous mutations. The fruit flies were genetically altered to have all of the same genetic mutations as the man and the scientists bred about 300,000. They tested different types of drugs on these genetically modified fruit flies and they tested them with different combinations of the drugs as well. Many of the combinations kept the flies alive and slowed the growth of their tumors. The combination that worked the best on the fruit flies was given to the man with colon cancer. The man stopped responding to the treatment after 11 months and scientists could not identify what mutations made the tumor resistant to the drugs. The man did die after three years but the results show that he most likely lived longer than he would have if hadn't taken these drugs. Mouse avatars are also being used but flies are preferred because of the ethics of animal testing.
I think this is very important research because we have cancer medicines that fight individual mutations but we can't determine how a tumor would respond with multiple mutations. By using these fruit flies we are able to test thousands of different combinations of drugs to help prolong or perhaps, eventually, save one's life.